Putting a rope halter on my horse following a face injury - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Putting a rope halter on my horse following a face injury

My first post- grateful to have found this forum. I am new to horses and horse ownership; rescued a five year old off the track thoroughbred in June. We have been bonding well. Ten days ago a paddock mate kicked my boy in the face- closed an eye, injured his sinus. There is much improvement physically ten days later ; however he now resists having a halter placed on him, throwing his head, walking away, etc. Before the injury he was halter and bridle broke nicely.
Looking for an approach to desensitizing him and regaining his trust in accepting the halter.
Thanks in advance for helping.
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 01:02 AM
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He's probably still very sore so if you can go without haltering him for now that would be my first option. It would be a good opportunity to teach him to lead with a neck rope but please do this in an enclosed safe environment until you're sure he's very manageable with it. In the meantime use very gentle hands to touch his head as he will tolerate. Start behind the ears and move forward in slow increments. I would not rub or pat at this point, only a light touch but not a tickle. Back off at the point he tosses his head or pulls away. Rinse and repeat until he realizes his face no longer hurts.

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post #3 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 01:05 AM
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Oh and welcome to forum! Good luck with your gelding and keep us posted on he's doing. We love pictures too!
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input and welcome.
I have been respectful of his sensitivity and lead him from paddock to barn with a rope around his neck; he tolerates touch on his face, so I am unclear if the resistance is totally from pain or a new behavior to resist the control the halter gives me. The situation is difficult as he currently boards ( moving him in two weeks) with horses who aggress and even managing him in the shared barn and arena areas with only the rope is unmanageable- he simply pulls away; this is a new behavior, started with the injury.
He’s moving to a new venue February 25; I am hoping that your assessment that this is primarily a protective behavior and he’ll accept the halter soon is correct, as it feels like a rebellious behavior following a real injury.
Thanks again!
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 06:15 AM
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Welcome to the Forum....

Your poor horse...
I don't see your horse as resisting doing what you want...
He is resisting you putting something on a face that is terribly painful.
You are being told his only way to communicate he hurts...he is asking you nicely not to do that...
He could blow-up and go bonkers to show you as a alternative.
The fact you are leading him around with a simple neck-rope tells you he is compliant and trusting, he just hurts bad right now.

I would give him another solid week of no work so no halter or bridling done...
What did the vet say about his injuries?
Soft tissue injury...just because it isn't a broken bone makes it no less painful nor time needed to heal properly.
Can you imagine having to work hard and breathe hard with several broken ribs... excruciating if you've ever experienced it yourself...
A few weeks time and much better able to cope...
That is what your horse is asking you for...time.

Me, use the neck-rope and leave as much of his face alone as you can...touch gently.
Spend quality time with him but no bridle or halter...no riding.
Excessive motion also hurts...

I would far rather give him some time than give him fear of handling and deal with that issue...
Horses are stoic and if he is showing pain, he is in a lot of pain...
His reluctance to have you touch his face...that is a pain factor wouldn't you think?
Your horse, your choice but a angry horse lashing out in pain is not where I would want to be needing to handle at your level of competence.
That is not a dig at you...I'm pretty experienced and would be considering options right now myself..
Please give him some more time to heal...just because you don't "see" it does not mean a hurtful injury is not there.
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post #6 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 06:47 AM
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Are you giving him anything for the pain? Bute?
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 07:45 AM
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Several years ago I was hit in the face by a horse flinging her head. I landed 12 foot away on my back. At the time I was told only fractures in the cheek. A year later when seizures started comparison MRI was done, better pics taken. The original injury went much further than the cheek. All that to My facial injury could be compared to a kick in the face horse to horse. My face ached that entire year and pressure even as light as a brush sweeping across the cheek hurt. After reconstruction of all the affected area it still ached and I had to be extremely careful or experienced pain. Years later my cheek can still hurt if contact is too rough. Your horse needs more time. Work with the neck rope. Teach him to lead off his mane. It takes time but is worth it.
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 08:19 AM
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Using a longer than normal lead rope, put it around his neck, snap the snap around the rope, then put the end over his nose, and pass the lead rope over itself, under his chin. This way you have control, but donít have to mess with the sensitive area. You canít tie up, but at least you will be safe encounter....

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post #9 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 08:29 AM
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Has he been checked by a vet? If not, that's priority one. Head injuries, like in people, can cause behavioral changes. Fractures of the facial bones can and do happen. Ten days ago isn't that long, his face still hurts. Give him another couple of weeks to feel better and keep up on the pain meds. Halters are designed to apply pressure at various parts of the head. Skip the halter, it's like pulling someone with a broken arm by the hand and saying Come on!
For now when you need to lead him somewhere just loop the leadrope around his neck (never tie him up like this!).
I also would advise against doing much ground work with him (and of course keeping a bridle off for now). Those delicate sinuses are probably pretty swollen. If you've ever had a bad sinus headache you can understand how painful any bouncing or quick movements can be. There may also be swelling around the eye which can compromise vision. So again, just follow your vets' advise and give him time to heal.
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post #10 of 13 Old 02-12-2019, 10:36 AM
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I second or third... or fourth... the neck rope. We call it a 'catch rope' here. Our horses, at least, tend to respond just as well to the catch rope in terms of leading and ground rope. Sometimes they behave even better with it than a halter.

He's going to need time for that tenderness to go away, and even more time for the 'emotional' issues to fade.
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